It’s that time of the year again when India will get an opportunity to end their ICC trophy drought. The T20 World Cup 2024 is just around the verge with its participants gearing up for the marquee event scheduled to be held in the United States and the West Indies in June later this year. Whatever you say about prioritising domestic cricket or not, the ongoing IPL 2024 season will be more important for the T20 World Cup selection than any other domestic tournament. So, the high-profile T20 league will be crucial for contenders to stake claim in India’s 15-member T20 World Cup 2024 squad because there isn’t even a week between the IPL and the upcoming ICC T20 event. (IPL 2024 Points Table)

Nearly a third of the IPL is over with a few contenders already making their mark in the league. Let’s first look at a few players that are reasonable certainties. Any such list should always begin with skipper Rohit Sharma, he will open the proceedings with Yashasvi Jaiswal. And once you bring back Rohit, there is no point in leaving Virat Kohli behind, knowing that India’s batting still revolves around him.

The only other batter who will certainly fly to the West Indies and the United States is Suryakumar Yadav, considering his 17-ball fifty against RCB on his comeback. In addition to these star batters, Jasprit Bumrah is also a no-brainer for the ICC event.

Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja are most likely to cement their places in the spin department. Meanwhile, the return of Rishabh Pant and the rich form of Yuzvendra Chahal has also perplexed the Indian think tank.

Ahead of the squad announcement, the selectors will be keenly looking for a handful of answers from IPL to their questions. Keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at a few debate-stirring points on T20 WC squad selection.

Seam-bowling all-rounder as sixth bowling option

If fully fit and in form, Mumbai Indians’ new skipper Hardik Pandya is a definite starter. But the selectors will want to see what kind of role he plays for his IPL team. After five games this season, Hardik has scored 129 runs and has leaked runs at 11.12 in three innings.

Meanwhile, Shivam Dube has had a wonderful start to the IPL 2024, with 176 runs in five innings at an impressive strike rate of 160, but he is yet to bowl in this IPL and that is what has thrown challenges to the selectors. However, it will be interesting to see how Shivam Dube will be accommodated in the playing XI.

Wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant ready for T20 World Cup?

PBKS batter Jitesh Sharma was the closest contender for the wicketkeeper role at the start of the IPL but the decision-makers would ideally have liked to see him a little more in international outings.

However, the return of Rishabh Pant has cleared the doubts concerning his recent form in the IPL. The southpaw smashed 196 runs in six innings at 157.72. Pant has competition from the likes of Sanju Samson, KL Rahul, and Ishan Kishan, who are likely to be vying for the second wicketkeeper slot in the squad.

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“Yeah look it’s great for Indian cricket, but it’s also great for Rishabh Pant. I think the work that has gone into his rehab to get back to that level of play at any standard is an amazing achievement.

“He deserves a lot of credit for his hard work and it’s great to see him on the field, captaining and playing well, batting and keeping,” former Australia captain Michael Clarke was quoted as saying to IPL broadcaster Star Sports.

Pant, who had surgery on his knee, has shown that he is ready to bat and keep.

Does Virat Kohli deserve a place in the squad?

Former India captain Virat Kohli is currently leading the Orange Cap list after amassing 319 runs in six matches at 79.75, including a century.

There is no way he is going to be left out, despite some talks to the contrary about his ‘anchoring’ strike rate.

Virat has been an absolute match-winner for India since his international debut. In T20 World Cups, he has accumulated 1,141 runs in 25 innings at an impressive average of 81.50 and a strike rate over 130.

With an immense experience of 117 T20I matches, Virat’s presence in the middle order as an anchor will only provide balance alongside the swashbuckling and aggressive styles of Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Rinku Singh, and Shivam Dube.

Pace bowlers apart from Bumrah

Jasprit Bumrah is there for sure. He will be leading India’s pace battery in the T20 World Cup. But, India needs two more quicks in the starting XI for the ICC event. With Mohammed Shami out of contention due to injury and Bhuvneshwar Kumar not in India’s T20 schemes since the 2022 edition of the T20 World Cup, no one is closer to Bumrah in terms of quality and experience.

The last squad that played against Afghanistan featured Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan, and Mukesh Kumar. One of the all-format pacers, Mohammed Siraj has been conceding runs at 10.40 in the ongoing IPL with only four scalps to his name after six matches.

Lucknow Super Giants’ pace sensation Mayank Yadav was somewhere in the talks of making the squad but he still needs a handful of international matches to prove his worth.

With India’s 15-member squad for the T20 World Cup 2024 likely to be announced in the last week of April, these contenders have limited opportunities to impress and partner Bumrah in the fast bowling department.

Who are the death-over hitters?

Finishers auditioning for the aforementioned role must be able to strike 180 or more in overs 17 to 20. For that role, no one can go beyond Rinku Singh, at least in the T20 format.

The southpaw has smashed 356 runs in 11 T20I innings at a whopping strike rate of 176.23. There is no reason to keep him out of the squad.

Rinku’s inclusion in the final XI could still be difficult as the likes of Hardik Pandya, Shivam Dube, and Ravindra Jadeja are the other contenders for the limited finishers slots.

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